My Plans For a Monsters of the Week One-Shot

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My Plans For a Monsters of the Week One-Shot
« on: January 10, 2013, 07:21:25 PM »
In the future I will be running a Monsters of the Week One Shot at a gaming convention. I really want to use Pre-Gens rather than do on the spot character creation as I already have a background prepared for each of the Hunters. The game slot is at most 4 hours so I doubt I can run the adventure, explain the game and allow players to create their own characters.

Anyway, the variant I'm doing with this setting is that I'm basing the world on a JRPG that has not been translated into English called "Beast Bind". Of course since I don't read Japanese my knowledge of the setting is based off of a translated Wiki page and a Visual Novel based in the universe (also which I cannot understand, but as they say pictures speak a thousand words).

The Major PC's are:

The Chosen, Hideaki Komatsu: The heir to his branch of the Komatsu family, an honorable family with Samurai traditions who in Ancient Japan fought against Oni and other evil spirits. He bears the family legacy, the Komatsu Katana, a magical blade that can slay even ghosts with its edge. He now tries to hunt monsters while balancing his life as a high school student.

The Expert, Hayato Mochizuki: The loyal retainer of the Komatsu family. An educated man skilled in combat arts and well educated in the the lore of the supernatural. He has taken up the mentorship and training of Hideaki and assists him in the hunt of the monsters that lurk in the shadows.

The Murdane, Ran Nakamura: A childhood friend of Hideaki and a tomboy whose always looking for adventure. She found out Hideaki's secret and insists on helping him out in the hunt for monsters. She's confident and impulsive and cares a lot for Hideaki and competes for his attention, especially against Katsuri Moriko.

The Monstrous, Katsuri Moriko (Mori): Once a social butterfly at Waseda High School, Katsuri got attacked and nearly killed a evil vampire one night but was saved by hunter team. During the fight she was accidently sprayed by the vampire's blood, swallowing it and becoming a vampire herself. She now is a rookie vampire, trying to control her thirst for blood while at the same time helping the team on the hunt. She also has a crush on Hideaki, much to Ran's chagrin.

The Spooky: Sayomi Inoue: A freshman at Waseda high school and a heir to a bloodline of ancient Japanese mystics. Sayomi is often plagued by visions of the supernatural and struggles to control her growing magical powers. Still her magical abilities are invaluable to the team and have helped out the group with a number of missions. She is curious about the Chosen and sticks close to him to see how his actions will affect the flow of fate.

The Flake: Nobaru Arakaki: A genius computer hacker who has become somewhat unhinged after discovering that monsters exist in the world. His brain works on overdrive a lot of the time and he can often come to grandiose conclusions. He is the information broker and logistics officer of the group, often taking a supporting role in the hunt. He is attracted to Katsuri and is fearful of Sayomi, suspicious she may at any time go off the deep end.

The Initiate: Quintin Alexander: A Foreigner from Italy, who has taken up the role as a local priest at a Catholic church in the city. He works for the Burial Agency, a branch of the church dedicated to hunting and killing monsters. However as the church has a weak influence in Japan, he is one of the few field operatives in Japan, meaning an alliance with the chosen was a smart move on his part. He is skilled with medieval weapons and possesses magic that can call on the powers of godly miracles. 

The Professional: Akane Tokiwa: A former police officer, who encountered the supernatural in the line of duty. She retired from the force and joined the JSID (Japanease Supernatural Investigation Division), a black-opp government agency that investigates supernatural activity and fights it through the use of advanced technology. Crossing paths with the Hunter, she now begrudgingly works with the group from time to time, or at least whenever their goals overlap.

The Wronged: Daichi Hamada: A one time construction worker and family man, Daichi lost his family to the monsters years ago. He now has a vendetta to hunt down the Oni and slay them without remorse. He helps bring some muscle in combat to the hunt but he is obsessive and unstable and does not trust Sayomi and Katsuri, almost measuring them to the real monsters that he hunts.

Re: My Plans For a Monsters of the Week One-Shot
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 07:49:00 PM »
For this sort of setup, I'd advise using mystery letters to get everyone started: that way you can include the background information for each character.

I have a strong preference for letting people make up their own characters, with the letter containing suggestions like: "moves that would be especially useful for you would be ..." and "here are some new history options for you to choose..." But you could also include specific details that they must take (e.g. "when it's time to pick history with Hideaki, say this...."

Even if you go with fully pre-generated characters, however, the mystery letters are a nice way to drop in some background info (and you can spread different facts and rumours to each hunter if you want).

I find that character generation takes only 15-20 minutes, and usually have 3 hours for my convention one-shots. That's usually plenty of time for a mystery (as long as it isn't too complicated).

Re: My Plans For a Monsters of the Week One-Shot
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 07:56:21 PM »
As for my intended quest, its going to be called "Fishing for Trouble". The plot of the adventure is that the city has had a noticeable reduction of homeless over the past month. The government hails it as the success of new social policies in Tokyo to get the homeless off the street. However people are really going missing and the authorities give little care as they have no respect for the homeless population. However our hunters notice this and suspect there is something more sinister going on.

Throughout the investigation, they will discover that a new corporation called "Girzacorp" has opened in Tokyo and has arranged a contract with the city to supply food to various homeless shelters and has been keeping its end of the bargain vigilantly. The shelters have gotten a good stock of food provided to them, mainly in the form of a tasty Fish-Broth. A good place for the group to check out is the shelters. However the Girzracorp staff will refuse to provide any food to those who are not homeless, so the group either has to fake being homeless or charm someone in order to get a sample. Eating the broth however is not a good idea. Despite being tasty as hell the effect of the broth gives the enemy 1 hold on any hunter who eats the broth.

Suffice to say, the main big bad is a Girzaru, a female Oni creature that breeds a race of Fish-Men known as Jinmengyo, through mating with humans. The Girzaru has the ability to take human form and has magical powers, mainly relating to the creation & control of water but can also charm and dominate people as well. The Girzaru is basically breeding an army of Jinmengyo in the sewers of Tokyo, but as her brood needs to eat human flesh to grow to full size, she has tainted the Fish Broth with her ichor, making anyone who eats it a valid target for the Jinmengyo. As few people care if the homeless start vanishing, it is an intelligent plot to "Mark" the homeless so the Jinmengyo know who they should attack. As for the Jinmengyo, they're basically man-sized fish-men with razor sharp claws and shark-like teeth. Their claws do 2 base harm and their bite does 3 harm with Armor piercing 1. They count as "Minions" in combat. The Gizaru however has more moves. She does not have the bite attack (As she looks mermaid-like in her monster form), she's 12 feet tall has powerful talons (That do 4 harm on a hit) and has a number of Water-based magical attacks. She can create a flood that forces everyone to make either a Tough (or with justification Smart) check to avoid being swept away by a torrent of water. She can also have the water solidify into ice and create ice javelins (That do 3 Harm and have the ranged trait). She also can charm people with her gaze. As for her harm, I am thinking 12 harm would be appropriate. She has 1 point of armor from her scales and has the "Immortal" trait. As for killing her, as she is an Oni of water she can only be killed with fire. When in contact with water, she can make a "Water Healing" move and heal damage as a move she can pull. She cannot use this to Water Healing on wounds inflicted by fire however, as its her weakness. Does this sound like a good villain for a one shot?

Re: My Plans For a Monsters of the Week One-Shot
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 08:09:28 PM »
Sounds like a good one to me, yes. The powers and numbers are the sort of thing I'd expect for a one-shot, although the minions will get dangerous quickly if there's a large number of them (which is probably just fine).

I'm not sure I'd bother with specifying a saving throw for the flood attack: the hunters can use act under pressure, defend someone, or even use magic. If there's something special about the flood power that could have special effects, then use a custom move for it, but if the power is just to create a flood, just note that.

Also, don't think too far ahead about how the investigation will go. You have written "staff will refuse to give samples" and "hunters need to do this or that". Rather than worrying about which tactics will succeed, think about what the characters are doing. Maybe the staff will never give a sample to a monster hunter, but I'm sure each group of hunters will come up with a bunch of ways to get one (e.g. steal it, pretend to be a superior, pretend to be food hygiene inspectors, hijack a delivery truck, and so on).

Your job isn't to plan what will work for the hunters, but to build up a situation so that you know how the various characters will react when the hunters get involved.

Re: My Plans For a Monsters of the Week One-Shot
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 08:34:14 PM »
Thanks for your advice on the game. This is my first time running Monsters of The Week so thinking of the best way to run it is difficult. The only Appoclapse Engine game I've played before was Dungeon World after all.  As for the Pregens, I've already made their character sheets and spent a while searching the net for images and building the sheets picking what would fit the character's best for their types. I might however just leave the history blank and let the PC's develop their own histories for the Pre-Gens, just to give them some creative control.

Re: My Plans For a Monsters of the Week One-Shot
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 09:23:43 PM »

I think the most important thing to keep in your mind when building the mystery is that you're setting up a situation in which everything is starting to go horribly wrong, and the hunters have to sort it out. So make sure your monsters, your minions, and even your bystanders all have plans about what they want to do (the countdown is the most important one of these, plus their motivations).

From your description, I guess the monster is a breeder type (i.e. she wants to make her babies). That should guide how you play her when the hunters start messing with her plan.

If you have all that organised, that means when the hunters do something, you'll be equipped to react to them. Maybe they go somewhere you didn't expect, then the mystery setup should allow you to tell them what they find there. Or if they decide to shoot up a foodbank because of the tainted food, then you will have some idea what the bad guys (or the good guys) will do next.

Re: My Plans For a Monsters of the Week One-Shot
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2013, 10:52:02 PM »
I really, really like this mystery set up, and am going to blatantly steal it when I finally run a MotW game. Hope you don't mind. :D

One thing I would suggest though, consider your target audience. What I mean is, are the people you're running this game for familiar with the Beast Bind setting and characters? If so, or if you're running this at an anime-related con, then everything will probably be fine and you can proceed as normal.

If you're running this game for a mixed audience though, or for players who aren't familiar with the Beast Bind setting (or possibly don't even like anime at all), I would suggest filling of the serial numbers completely, so to speak. Drop the Japanese names from the characters and "genericize" the locations both in the character backgrounds and in the adventure itself. Instead of setting the mystery in Tokyo, just set it in "the big city". Drop the anime "flavor" and make it more like Supernatural. Otherwise your players may get overwhelmed with the the Japanese setting in addition to playing the game and learning the rules.

If you're dead set on doing the Beast Bind Japanese anime angle though, I would suggest you bill the game as such. In the game's write up (or the note that people will read before signing up for the game), make sure to indicate what you're doing. I'm (hopefully) going to a con this fall and am running a few games inspired by animes, too (as I've been living in Japan since 2005). But I've either "genericized" the setting, or am naming the game something that makes it very clear the game will be Japanese anime themed.

Again, if you run this with people familiar with anime and Japanese culture (kinda), then you should be OK. Also, I'm not trying to dump on your idea. As I said, I really really like it. I just think more "generic" characters and locations would probably be better for a first run.
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